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Informal Meeting – Thursday 09/27 @ 6 PM

We’re going to have a very informal “burger” meeting this Thursday night at 6 PM.  It will be at Peppermints Family Restaurant, which is located at 4870 West Henrietta Rd.  It’s just south of McDonalds and not far from the Lehigh Station Road exit of Rt 390.

You’ll be able to meet some of the other members of our group and have your questions answered. We’d also like to get your ideas and input on a number of topics, especially about where we should locate our makerspace and how much space we need to get started.

We still have a lot to discuss, decide and do before we can open our doors.  So we’re going to another informal meeting on Thursday, October 4th.  We’re open to suggestions about where to have it and we’re also willing to change the time if 6 PM is not convenient for many of you.

Update – August 2012

I know there’s a lot of questions on where we stand right now in launching our Maker Space. Here’s the update:

Our biggest obstacle right now is publicity. We’re only about 3-½ months old and almost no one knows our name or what a maker space is, but that could change very quickly. College students will be returning to our area soon and we’ll be putting up posters on the various campus’ to generate interest. We’re also trying to come up with other inexpensive and effective ways to publicize ourselves. If you have any ideas then please email or call me.

We were recently mentioned in the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper and two other local publications have shown interest in doing stories on us. We’re also steadily getting new subscribers to our email announcement list. There is definitely growing interest and excitement about what we are and what we are planning so we want to be ready to quickly rent a space when we think we have enough prospective members to move forward. So we’ve found a lawyer we like who can quickly form our non-profit corporation and we’ve talked with a CPA and an insurance agency.

We’re also looking at real estate and talking to landlords. We found a space at 17 Industrial Street in Rochester’s up and coming Cascade District that we want to discuss renting temporarily at at our next meeting on September 5th @ 6:30 PM at The Flying Squirrel. If there is strong interest in it from prospective members then we could have our maker space open by October. And if there isn’t then we will at least have a better idea of what we should be looking for. Your input is important and I look forward to hearing your thoughts at the meeting on September 5th.

All great organizations need a great business plan and we are working on ours. One of our problems is that we don’t know how much permanent space we will need. The majority of successful maker spaces (and hackerspaces too) almost always go through huge growth spurts, which requires moving to bigger locations. So we’re trying to come up with realistic cost estimates for running three different size maker spaces: 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 square feet of space. Some costs are not easy to estimate (like utilities) so if you, or someone you know, has had experience renting commercial real estate and would be willing to be a mentor, we could certainly use the help.

We’re are also looking at ways to raise startup funds. We have someone willing to help pay the rent for a short time, but we’re going to need a lot more money than that to open our doors and equip our space. So we’re going to try creating a “Founder’s Club.” The first 100 people to donate $100 would get the right to call themselves a Founding Member of the Rochester Maker Space and get their name engraved on a large plaque that will be permanently displayed in our space. Additionally, Founding Members will receive a certificate or perhaps an additional memento to express our appreciation. We are also going to try using KickStarter or other crowd funding sources and we will actively seek donations from businesses, organizations and professionals. Again, please share your thoughts and ideas with us through email or at the upcoming meeting.

As always, we greatly appreciate any help or support you can give us, any suggestions you may have to the topics discussed here, or any additional thoughts that may help us in launching the maker space. If you have any questions always feel free to contact us via the contact page on our website or post a message in our forum.

I look forward to seeing you at the Flying Squirrel at 6:30pm on September 5th.


Let’s Talk About Renting at 17 Industrial Street

The space we’re considering is currently being used as a storage and work space. You’ll find another photo below showing a empty finished space that is almost identical to the one we’re interested in.

Wyatt and I looked at a 1700 square foot space located in an old factory at 17 Industrial Street that is being completely renovated. The price is very reasonable, we like the landlord and he seems very willing to work with us. We’ve also been looking at other locations and we’re going to continue to look at more. But we think we need, as a group, to seriously consider renting this space.

If there is strong support for it we’ll move forward and see if we can come to an agreement that will allow us to move into it in October. And if there isn’t, then we’ll at least have a better idea of what we need to look for.

This would be just a temporary space. We would not have room to do all the things we would like to. We also wouldn’t have extra space to rent out to members who want a private work area or storage. But we’ll still have lots of room and tools to work with, like the 3D printer we just ordered. We’ll also have a place to have classes and other activities. And maybe most importantly, it will give us instant credibility by proving that we’re not just talking about starting a maker space in Rochester.

The building is in Rochester’s Cascade District and it’s easy to get to. It’s only a couple of minutes from RT 490 no matter what direction you’re coming from. It’s in a neighborhood filled with offices and loft apartments. There is limited off-street parking but on street parking probably won’t be a problem, especially after 4 PM weekdays and on weekends.

The entirely building is being completely renovated. Our space would be on the second floor, reachable by both stairs and an elevator. It’s wide open with a hardwood floor, brick walls and lots of large new windows. There are plenty of electrical outlets, the bathrooms are new, and heating, air conditioning and electric is included. The landlord also seems to be willing to consider providing free rubbish pickup. So our only addition expenses might be just Internet and insurance.

Our next formal meeting is going to be in early September. But many of us have often been meeting for breakfast on Saturday mornings to informally discuss things. I’d like to do that again in the next week or two to discuss this space. Meeting somewhere on a weeknight is also possible if it’s convenient for more people.

I’d also like to set up another meeting with the landlord before then so others can see it before we talk about it.

If you’re interested in seeing it or meeting about it then please leave a comment below or let us know via our contact form.

Continue reading Let’s Talk About Renting at 17 Industrial Street

Status Update – July 2012

We’ve made a lot of progress since our web site went up in early May.

We have a small hardworking group of founders who have been working steadily on promoting the Rochester Maker Space and developing our business plan. We also have an impressive amount of tools to start with and some seed money to work with. So we’ve begun looking for both temporary and permanent locations to rent.

Nearly everyone who is currently involved lives on the east side of the city or in the eastern suburbs. So that’s probably where we’re going to be unless we get a huge donor who influences our decision.

We’re still months away from being able to rent a permanent location but we need to start looking at possible locations to gather cost information for the financial section of our business plan. We also need a better estimate of how many members we’ll start with and how much space we’ll need. We probably won’t have one until at least October, after the college students have returned. Our goal is to open in a permanent location by early next year.

In the meantime we’d like to find a small (1,000 to 1,500 sq. ft.) and inexpensive (~$500/month) temporary space that we can rent within the next two or three months. A temporary location will give us more credibility, help us attract members, and give us a place to work in and hold classes. It’ll also give us an opportunity to start learning on a small-scale how to manage a maker space.

But before we can consider renting any kind of space need to accomplish several things.

  • First, we need to find a lot more potential members. To do that we need to continue publicizing the Rochester Maker Space. We also need to do a better job describing what we’re trying to create, what we’re going to offer, how we can benefit the community and what memberships will probably cost.
  • Second, we need to find more people who are willing to help us with our huge to-do list. This is probably the most difficult challenge facing us. So please contact us if you’re interested. We have very simple things you can do to help, along with some more challenging ones.
  • And third, we need to find a good, affordable and personable lawyer to setup our not-for-profit corporation and advise us in some other ways. We can’t rent a space and buy liability insurance until we do so. Forming a corporation will require us to formalize our management team, prepare bylaws, and raise funds to pay for our legal fees. If we can’t do that, and also prepare a good business plan, then we probably shouldn’t even be trying to start a maker space.

When we first started I thought we would appeal mostly to engineers, geeks, hackers, hobbyists, entrepreneurs and other technically oriented “makers” who wanted access to machine tools, welding and metal fabrication equipment, woodworking tools, laser cutters, electronic test gear and 3D printers.

But then we decided we also wanted to make artists and crafters feel welcome. And as a result we’re getting an enormous amount of interest from that part of our community. We’re still not sure what they need in terms of tools but we have learned that access to workspace is very important to them and also all kinds of “makers.”

We’ve also learned that many of the most successful maker spaces have been able to achieve financial stability and create well-equipped community workshops by renting extra space to their members who want it for additional storage, a private work area or even an office area. So we’re looking into doing that also.

We also once thought we could be a completely volunteer run organization. But now we’re not so sure of that. We’re worried that 3 or 4 people (or fewer) will end up doing most of the work and that won’t be sustainable for long.

We still intend to rely mostly on volunteers to hold costs down (expect regular group work sessions to fix machines or sweep floors). But we also think we need to at least consider getting to a point we can afford to hire at least some part-time help.

By the way, we’ve already decided we’re going to pay instructors because we think it will help us attract better ones and make it possible to schedule classes more regularly. But we haven’t decided yet how much to pay them.

So, our business plan is becoming more complicated and we need to spend more time working on it, especially the financial sections. But we’re already pedalling about as fast as we can. So we could really use some help with it.

Please don’t be afraid to ask questions or make suggestions in the comments. And we hope you can make it to our next organizational meeting. It will be at 7 PM on Monday July 23rd at the Webster Library.

Our Next Meeting is on Monday, July 23

The Rochester Maker Space is having another organizational meeting on Monday, July 23rd @ 7 PM

This time we’re going to be meeting in the Webster Library’s meeting room. It’s at 980 Ridge Rd, near the Hard Road exit of RT 104, in the plaza across from Staples and BJ’s).

Come early to socialize and network. There will be refreshments.

 We’re going to discuss

  • Our goals and vision
  • Renting a temporary space
  • Buying a 3D printer
  • Getting more help with our to-do list

Please join us. We need your input and help to launch a non-profit community work space with affordable access to a wide variety of tools and classes. A place where you can meet and collaborate with other talented and creative people.

Building a Maker Space Inside a Library

This short two-minute video describes the Westport Connecticut library’s plan to build a maker space inside its Great Hall. Patrons will then either be able to watch Joesph Schott, the library’s first “Maker-in-Residence,” build two very large (15-foot) wooden model airplanes or actually help him with their construction.  The finished planes will then be kept on display at the library.

Maker Works

Maker Works wants to be more than just a space for hobbyists to work on projects and socialize. The club, located in Ann Arbor, Mich., aims to help give a boost to the local economy by encouraging members who want to start craft-related businesses, adding what the club calls “micro-manufacturing” to the area.

Club organizers say the mission is especially important in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, hit hard in past decades by the departure of automakers and manufacturing plants. The club sponsors a series called Crafting the Small Business that teaches the logistics of running a craft-based business. Participants can work with experts from around southeastern Michigan, including consultants, instructors and sellers.

Maker Works has workshops for metal, circuits, wood and crafts, each with benches and tables along with plenty of electrical outlets. Each area in the club’s open floorplan has top-of-the-line tools, like a Clausing Colchester Engine Lathe and Tormach CNC Mill in the metalworking area. The craft section has a MakerBot 3-D Printer and an Epilog 50W Laser Cutter, one of the club’s most popular tools. The club helps make work easier and more efficient for members, providing an online calendar where there can sign in and reserve tools for certain times. It even has a conference room with a whiteboard and digital projector where local maker groups can hold meetings.

Maker Works also offers different classes and camps to members, including Brain Monkeys camp, which encourages young students to learn robotics. In the summer Maker Works hosts three resident artists from the area to work in studios, giving them a chance to use the tools they might not otherwise afford. The club trains them on tools they are not familiar with and offers storage space and access to computer software. At the end of the summer the residents showcase their work to the public during an evening lecture.

East Gippsland Makerspace

The club may still be young, but the East Gippsland Makerpace is coming together quickly and building interest in the rural region of Australian where it makes its home. This makerspace is putting together many of the traditional woodworking and metalworking tools common at other clubs, but also aims for a technological focus. In addition to a drill press, lathe and number of different size saws, the club will also have a computer lab and eventually projectors and audio equipment.

East Gippsland Makerspace got its start in early 2012, when a group of founders came together, setting up a website and Facebook page and calling on interested people to step forward to help get the club launched. It now has its own space, and is putting together a committee of members to establish policies and “steer the ship.”

The idea is going over well so far. The club is seeking funding from its local community college, has built an active following on its Facebook page and is creating buzz locally for the idea of a makerspace. Founding members have appeared twice on local radio stations to explain the concept of a shared workspace and bring in new members.

East Gippsland Makerspace offers a variety of membership levels depending on how involved the member wants to be and how much experience they have with the tools. There are restricted memberships, which gives them access to the lounge, a profile and e-mail address and supervised access to the makerspace itself. Once they have been trained in how to use the equipment, they can move to an unrestricted membership that also gives them extra perks like use of meeting facilities and free or discounted access to special events.

Maui Makers

Members of Maui Makers don’t have to look far to understand the DIY ethic of the club. In fact, they don’t have to look any further than the building itself. Located in a shipping container that was modified and fitted into a workshop, the makerspace is a place for makers of all kinds on Hawaii’s second-largest island to meet and hone their crafts.

Maui Makers sees itself as something of a Fab Lab, with a focus not only on giving members means of physical production but also putting a strong focus on technology. Even in the smaller space, Maui Makers has the equipment to suit a range of interests. It has a Epilog Helix 24 Laser Cutter, a Cupcake CNC 3D printer and a desktop CNC mill. There are air compression tools, smoldering stations, wood lathes and saws and an inventory of microcontrollers and other electronics to round out the equipment.

The club has a lot of interaction with other DIY groups and clubs on Maui, including the Maui Techies group. It also collaborates often with artists from the Source International Arts Festival, an annual art, music and healing festival with a focus on multi-media arts.

To help expand the skills of its members, Maui Makers puts on a series of workshops focused on building beginner-level skills. There are classes on using the laser cutter, learning basic electronics and soldering and how to use the Makerbot or LabView. Maui Makers also holds open meetings every Thursday evening so members of the public can come and see what the club is all about.

There’s a lot more to Maui Makers than a converted workshop and weekly meetings. One of its initiatives, Young Makers Maui, aims to get young people involved in various aspects of making and encouraging them to showcase their work at an annual makers fair. The club has a very active Google Groups message board where members share ideas and talk about the projects they’re working on. There is also a wiki page with information about the club’s equipment and some of its areas of focus. Readers can also see photos and links to some cool projects, like one member’s plans to convert an aluminum ladder into a truck rack for carrying equipment. It’s a cool project for anyone to try out, whether they’re in Maui or not, and can save hundreds of dollars it would cost to buy a truck rack.

Artisan’s Asylum

Boasting a new 25,000-square-foot space that is home to more than 100 artists, fabricators and business people, Artisan’s Asylum has the tools and programs to accommodate any kind of interest.

The Somerville, Mass., club, which was cited by Boston Magazine as a reason why Somerville is the best place to live in the Boston area, has all the amenities of your average makerspace plus a few extras to make it more inviting. There is a kitchenette and dining area where members can eat and socialize, air conditioning and heating, access to a loading dock on the ground level and options for electrical service in their rental units.

The club has a very impressive collection of tools that includes a fully equipped machine shop, welding shop, woodworking shop, fabric shop, bike shop and electronics lab.  And they’re getting ready to add jewelry making and screen-printing shops.

Artisan’s Asylum rents extra space in various sizes to its members, with rental prices ranging from $5 for a shelf to $275 for a 200-square-foot workspace. These also come with wireless internet service.

The non-profit studio’s mission is to support teaching and learning, and it does so with a huge slate of courses and special events. The coursework covers everything from digital media to woodworking to glassworking and caters to all experience levels. The club also has a number of one-day introductory events, like its Intro to Bike Shop seminar, designed to give beginners an glimpse to what the club has to offer.

One of the weekly clubs using Artisan’s Asylum gained some national attention for a project it competed. The Robotics Intensive course, a group of 19 engineering enthusiasts, created a six-legged robot weighing 500 pounds and packing 135 horsepower in its propane-fueled body.

In addition to a website, Artisan’s Asylum also maintains a wiki page that includes direction to the club, floor plans and information about the different craft areas.

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